While certainly a tough game for Patriot fans, the AFC Championship was a great overall football game. The Patriots dominated in the first half, giving Pats fans all too much hope for victory. The Colts dominated (even more) in the second half, though, overcoming a big deficit to take their rightful place in the big game in Miami.
The difference ended up being home field advantage – a small point spread with the visitors having to travel two weeks back-to-back. As a fan, I want desperately to find the one key to the loss. In the end, though, there really wasn’t one (well, if Reche Caldwell had just caught the ball thrown right into his arms . . . ). I used to believe that the Pats were the best team after the half. Bill Belichick had the secret decoder ring of first half action and, as a result, the Pats always played better than their opponents in the second half. For whatever reason, this is not true any more. Tony Dungy decoded the Pats, changed the game plan and won the game.
I’m disappointed (well, maybe that’s an understatement, I hardly slept last night) for sure, and while I’d rather being seeing Tom Brady leading his team in Miami, it’ll still be good to see Payton Manning in his first Super Bowl. He’s a great quarterback and certainly deserves to play in the big game.
Thanks for a great season, Patriots. I had a blast.